It's been almost two years since I started watching my Thoroughbred broodmare, Exotic Blue, for signs of imminent foaling. A lot has happened since that cold February morning, when she gave birth to a little bay filly with a white star and one white sock in what first appeared to be a normal delivery.
Jo's Magic officially turned 2 today (as did all North American-born Thoroughbreds, by the tradition of The Jockey Club - Magic's actual birthday is Feb. 15). With the launch of TheHorse.com's new blog stable - including a conversion of my Rejected Filly article to this new interactive blog format - it seems like a good time to post an update.
"Scout" and Brush Back: Three weeks after Jo's Magic was born in 2007, I welcomed a foal produced by another broodmare I owned then. Raising the two foals together worked great, as they got along well, even if their personalities were night and day. "Scout" was a colt to Magic's filly. He was stand-offish where she considered every stranger just a friend she hadn't yet met. The colt was petulant, while the filly seemed to vie for Ms. Congeniality. He needed to be convinced of every lesson; she was eager to please. The two were inseparable until they reached about a year old and - nature being what it is - it was prudent to part colt from filly.
Scout was sold as hip #4701 at the 2008 Keeneland September sale. He was shipped to South America, where his sire (Honour and Glory) is especially popular. Gone is the barn name "Scout," now replaced with his registered name, "H and G Back." You can bet I'll be watching his progress as a young racehorse - especially because I now have his full sister, a filly of 2008, in my barn.
As for his dam... Brush Back is one of those mares that never seem to find a long-term home. My breeding partners and I were her sixth owners, and her time with us drew to a close shortly after her colt was sold. She's gone on to a state-bred racing operation in Indiana, where I hope she finds her permanent niche in life. She has two older foals still racing (both winners in 2008); the two I bred are now a yearling and a 2-year-old, and they have their race careers ahead of them.
Exotic Blue: After several months of turnout and light work at a farm in eastern Kentucky, Exotic Blue was sold to a trainer who liked her looks and her bigger-than-life attitude. She's entered a new phase in life. Her career as a working hunter suits her well; she seems to prefer the active lifestyle to the more sedentary existence of a broodmare. Blue is still a young nine years of age and looks to be having the best time of her life.
Dr. John Steiner: Perfecting the lactation induction protocol was just one of the many accomplishments of a fine vet and a caring horseman. It saddens me to report that veterinary medicine lost one of its great practitioners in May 2008. His work lives on, however, as more foals are saved every year with his miracle technique.
Hermione: This little Quarter Horse mare is 24 now and is the light of one young girl's life. A few months ago, Hermione made the short move down the block to a neighbor's farm, where she is pampered by the family of her new 7-year-old rider.
Hermione's pasture pals include a couple of pet steers and a palomino AQHA filly, but Hermione is the accepted matron of the field and oversees her domain with the grace she's shown in every other job she's taken on in life.
Hermione's main job is to help a novice rider learn confidence on horseback, but she also still gives occasional rides to other kids in the neighborhood, from first-timers to the more experienced. And while she gently, patiently nurtures self-confidence in the youngest kids who are just beginning to ride, she still has plenty of spunk in her to spin around a few barrels or hop over the occasional stream when carrying more advanced riders.
Jo's Magic: The once-rejected filly is now a good-looking and well-adjusted 2-year-old. I was close to selling Magic about a year ago to a friend-of-a-friend who saw her potential as a show-ring hunter-jumper. I couldn't shake the feeling, though, that I was making a mistake I would regret.
The human mind is a wondrous thing, and - when I started to really think about it -- it didn't take me long to justify keeping my filly. After all, my current riding horse is starting to age, and I'd probably be looking for a new mount within a few years, anyway. One that I can use to "pony" my other foals in their early training as racehorses. What could be better than a sweet, nicely-conformed filly that I've raised myself and that I trust completely? Especially when it's apparent that she inherited her dam's tall, rangy build - a great match for a tall and stout rider. Especially when she will reach riding age just about the time that I'd be looking for that new horse. Especially when I couldn't bear to think of Magic, neighing excitedly and galloping to the barn, answering the call of some other owner.
So, Jo's Magic will become my riding horse. And for now, I'm taking it nice and easy with her. She'll start light training "in hand" this fall, and will be put under saddle as a young 3-year-old next spring. And while I suspect that she'll take right to her intended job of ponying my racers-in-training, I'll give her all the time she needs to adjust to the routine. After all, there's no hurry.